Roasted Sunchoke Salad with Poblano Pepper Dressing
Despite the name, Jerusalem artichokes are not from Jerusalem. Jerusalem artichoke, botanically named Helianthus tuberosus, is the tuber of a variety of perennial flowers in the aster family, native to North America. The flowers look like small yellow sunflowers. Also marketed as sunchokes, these little tubers look a lot like ginger root. Throughout history, sunchokes were an important staple food for many indigenous tribes from the Eastern United States.
Prior to the introduction of maize (Indian corn) from Mexico, Jerusalem artichoke tubers were a primary source of carbohydrates. Even after maize cultivation predominated, patches of Jerusalem artichoke plants were maintained to provide variety to diets and act as an emergency food source. To this day, Jerusalem artichokes are still considered a traditional food.
Sunchokes contains high levels of inulin, a very gassy non-digestible carbohydrate that is fermented by gut bacteria. It has such potent flatulence powers that professional chefs and gardeners have nicknamed it the fartichoke.This unfortunate side effect doesn’t affect all people however, and some find it helpful to ferment them before using. Benefits Most of the carbohydrates in sunchokes are in the form of inulin. Although this inulin can give you gas, it acts as a prebiotic, providing a source of food for beneficial probiotic organisms in your body. Probiotics may help improve your immune function, produce vitamins, lower your cholesterol and prevent disease-causing bacteria from multiplying.
Consuming prebiotics may be an easier way to increase the probiotic organisms in your body than taking probiotic supplements, because you don’t have to worry about them surviving the digestive process like you would with probiotics. A study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” in 2010 found that drinking fruit and vegetable juice shots that contained inulin from sunchokes increased the amount of certain types of probiotic bacteria in the body.
Sunchokes are also a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber which are essential to good health.
Where to find
Jerusalem artichokes grow naturally across the United States landscape, except for Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Make sure if you are gathering them from the wild, you are doing so in areas that are free of pesticides and chemicals. You can also plant Jerusalem artichokes as a edible and decorative landscape flower. They are not only beautiful, tall and can be used as a natural barrier, you can eat them! Sometimes certain health food stores will also carry the tubers for culinary purposes.
Sunchoke Salad Recipe
~2 lb sunchokes, cut into bite size ~chunks (leave the peel intact)
~2 TBSP olive oil
~salt & pepper
~2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
~1 tsp lime juice
~1/4 tsp cumin
~1 tsp Kosher salt
~ pinch of pepper
~1 clove garlic, chopped
~2/3 cup sour cream
~2 TBSP mayonnaise
~1/4 cup red onion, diced
Heat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl toss the sunchokes with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes or until tender in the center.
Cool to room temperature. Put all the ingredients for the dressing in the food processor and puree until smooth. Place in a large bowl and add the red onions. Stir to combine.
Add the cooled sunchokes to the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and season accordingly.
Can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to 8 hours ahead of time. This is one of my favorite sunchoke recipes to eat as a side dish because it pair’s well with anything!
If you are harvesting your tubers from the wild make sure you are 100% positive of identification. Never ever consume any plant you are not sure of what it is.Raw sunchokes are most likely to cause gas, so eat them in moderation. Some sources say that as your gut bacteria develop in response to the inulin, you build up a tolerance and can eat more at a time. Cooked sunchokes may be less problematic, but it’s still a good idea not to eat a heaping portion at one sitting.
Until next time, start looking at the weeds in your yard a little different. You may have something delicious to make a salad with growing right outside!